The Montana State Bobcat men’s basketball team opened the season last Wednesday, Nov. 5 against UM-Western in an exhibition game at the newly renovated Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. Also newly renovated is the team itself, thanks to first year MSU head coach Brian Fish and a number of new faces.
Returning just two starters from last season, the Cats needed players to step into the spotlight. Among those who stepped up are senior Blake Brumwell and junior Danny Robison, both going from supporting roles to leading men.
The first challenge of the season for the restructured Bobcats came when the Bulldogs, a Division II standout, rolled into Bozeman.
For the first half of play, the Bulldogs certainly gave the Cats all they could handle. The Bobcats got off to a shaky start, missing some easy shots and looking a bit lost in the new coaching system at times. UM-Western, on the other hand, started off strong. The Bulldogs opened the game with a three-pointer and took an early lead.
Throughout the first half, the teams went back and forth with the lead, eventually heading into halftime 36-33 in favor of the visitors. But in the second half, something clicked with the Bobcats. Shots that weren’t falling started dropping in and the Cats played visibly faster and with more confidence. The intensity picked up on both ends as they started to smother the Bulldog shooters and disrupt their offensive rhythm and the Cats began to pull away.
The Bobcats kept the pedal to the metal until the clock expired. Thanks to a 61.8 percent second half field goal shooting rate, MSU outscored UM-Western by 28 points in the second half to earn the 86-61 victory.
“They’re a close team,” Fish said of his squad. “We’ve got to play a certain way to win games, and I think one of those ways is by being together as a team and cover each other. I think we’ve done a good job of being together.”
Junior guard Marcus Colbert led the Bobcats with 19 points and six assists. Senior Michael Dison contributed 15 points and Robison scored 12 in the win. Dexter Williams Jr. led the Bulldogs with 19 points of his own.
The Cats will now hit the road for a five-game trip, including games at national contenders and storied programs UCLA and Kentucky over the next three weeks. The team returns home to play University of Texas-Arlington on Saturday, November 28 at 7:05 p.m.